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Live in Ludwigshafen 1961




1. Air Mail Special
2. G 'Wan Train
3. Solitude
4. Stolen Moments
5. Lester Leaps In
6. Moanin'
7. Summertime
8. I Remember Clifford
9. Ghana
10. Banja Luka
11. Caravan
12. The Midnight Sun Will Never Set
13. Quincy Jones Introduces His Band
14. The Birth of a Band
Quincy Jones and his Orchestra
Recorded 15 March 1961, Ludwigshafen [75:47]

After success at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1961 Quincy Jones took his orchestra on a European tour. The Zurich concert on 10 March was released on a Mercury LP but the concert in Ludwigshafen on 15 March has never before been released and it forms part of Jazz Haus’ expert restoration of archive tape material.

The band bristled with hot young stars – Freddie Hubbard, Benny Bailey, Sahib Shihab, Phil Woods, and Les Spann amongst them – and married corporate virtuosity with individual flair. Whether the arrangement was by Jones himself, Oliver Nelson, Melba Liston or Nat Pierce, fine charts were a given and that night in Ludwigshafen offered no exception to the rule.

The recording is largely successful but as an in-house affair things did sometimes go awry. Trombonist Ĺke Persson is off-mike at the start of his solo on Air Mail Special though things do improve. The especially noteworthy thing about this version of Jones’ band is its mastery of mood and tempo. Whether punchy and up-tempo or firmly loose-limbed – as in G’wan Train where the back beat is explicit and where Phil Woods takes a searing alto solo – there’s never a doubt that the band will play responsively and with compelling command of metre and texture.

The tracks veer from the three-minute mark – Solitude, though featuring an attractively lyric Melba Liston solo, lasts shy of three-minutes – to the expansive Stolen Moments, which is notable for the soloistic presence of underrated tenor player Eric Dixon and for a lyrically expansive Freddie Hubbard solo. Almost as long is Lester Leaps In where Patti Brown’s springy piano sets the ball rolling, and Les Spann’s guitar keeps them simmering nicely. It’s Benny Bailey’s turn to be off-mike on Moanin’ but when the engineers catch up with him he hits high and handsome. He’s also strongly full toned on I Remember Clifford. Budd Johnson was also in the band but he only gets one outing as a soloist, playing with deft imagination on Banja Luka and swinging behind the beat, never straining too hard. Julius Watkins adds greater range of colours on his French Horn, notably on an athletically virtuosic arrangement of Caravan. Woods graces The Midnight Sun Will Never Set with his balladic best and things end with a heated rendition of Jones’ own The Birth of a Band.
Demerits here include the fact that full personnel details are not given, only the principal soloists, though it is relatively straightforward to reconstruct the major component of the band. Microphone failures blight a small quotient of the music, and are more noticeable at the front end of the concert. These elements duly noted, this was a swinging night back in March 1961.

Jonathan Woolf

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